Treating Autism – Why?
Research has shown that people with autism can suffer from various biological problems which are not always visible on the surface or easy to detect but which may affect their behaviour, impact severity of autism and undermine their quality of life (see our scientific review Medical Comorbidities in Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Many of our members have found that treating these biomedical conditions can lead to an improvement in a wide range of symptoms, including sleep, irritability, aggression, self-injurious, self-stimulatory and repetitive and obsessive behaviours. Some have seen improvements in the core symptoms of autism, speech and communication, sociability and imagination. A few parents have reported that treatment of comorbid or underlying medical conditions, on its own or alongside behavioural interventions and therapies, has brought about in their children a complete recovery from autism. (Full recovery from autism – disappearance of autism symptoms and subsequent loss of autism diagnosis in a proportion of children has now been recorded in a number of published, peer-reviewed studies, see our review publication above).
In an ideal world, all these conditions would be treated on the National Health Service, free of charge, as a matter of course. However, as many of our members have found, the view commonly held by many mainstream medical practitioners is the outdated notion that autism-related symptoms and behaviours are immutable, irreversible and cannot be treated (rather than them actually being merely surface manifestations of underlying physical problems). This view is often reflected in their assessment of comorbid medical conditions, which can be misdiagnosed, overlooked and often left untreated. Our charity is actively campaigning to raise awareness of comorbid health problems in autism.
As recent research increasingly shows that autism is not a homogeneous condition, but very likely consists of many diverse subgroups of individuals who are affected by autism for different underlying biological reasons and suffer from different comorbid health problems. It is therefore not surprising that NO SINGLE APPROACH IS RIGHT FOR EVERY CHILD or adult. Some of our members have found mainstream medical treatments to be effective, some have seen improvements with the use of alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, while others have found a combination of the two approaches to be helpful. Dietary intervention in particular is reported to have been beneficial in a large number of cases, but the same rule applies; there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet. Further information about our members’ experiences can be found in our recent survey. Please remember it is always important to seek appropriate medical advice before initiating any medical treatment.
Dear Treating Autism, Just to let you know that information you provided had a positive outcome …The introduction of this intervention by our doctor (thanks in great part to information collected and passed on by Treating Autism!) meant that in just five days our child showed a marked improvement in behavioural responses, a reduction in OCD rituals and rigidity, reduction in oral defensiveness enabling new foods to be introduced on their first attempt… This intervention has given the whole family a better quality of life and more social opportunities to help develop our child, giving them the opportunity to just be a child like any other!
Feedback from a parent
Problem behavior in patients with autism may be the primary or sole symptom of the underlying medical condition, including some gastrointestinal disorders
Journal of Pediatrics
Care providers should be aware of the potential impact of allergic diseases on behavioral symptoms in ASD children.
Dr Jyonouchi, New Jersey Medical School
Many individuals with ASD have symptoms associated with underlying medical conditions, including seizures, sleep problems, gastrointestinal disorders, psychiatric conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic conditions; when left untreated, these conditions may not only compromise general health but also have clear effects on behavior, development, and educational outcomes for individuals with ASD.
Dr Lajonchere, Autism Treatment Network